Lenskart earmarks US $3 mn to invest in ‘eye-tech’ startups

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Online eyewear firm Lenskart said it has earmarked about US $2-3 million to invest in companies that are working on either products or technologies that can help provide affordable eyecare solutions.

According to a PTI report: As part of this strategy, the Ratan Tata-backed firm has invested US $500,000 (about Rs 3.3 crore) in US-based ThinOptics.

“We will invest about US $2-3 million… These companies (where Lenskart may look to invest) could be a tech or product company working on eyecare solutions, be it an innovative eye examination machine or some kind of a lens technology,” Peyush Bansal, Founder and Chief Executive, Lenskart told PTI.

He added that the intent for investing in these early-stage startups is to collaborate in development of innovative products.

Previously, Lenskart has picked up minority stake in Israel-based 6over6 for US $1 million. 6over6 allows consumers to determine the power needed for the lenses for their spectacles by using a smartphone application.

In September 2017, it had invested a similar amount in US-based Ditto. Lenskart is now using Ditto’s technology to allow users to try on various frames on their picture before making the purchase.

Talking about its latest deal with ThinOptics, Bansal said, the US-based company makes innovative reading glasses that can be attached to a user’s phone or keychain, so that the user can’t misplace it.

“These are light reading glasses and can be easily carried around at the back of a smartphone or on a keychain. We are already shipping ThinOptics’ glasses and have seen great traction in sales,” he was quoted by PTI as saying.

Bansal added that reading glasses account for about 5 per cent of the sales volumes of Lenskart.

“With zero advertising, we have seen sales of about 10,000 pieces a month for ThinOptics glasses. Post the investment, we will now work more closely with the company to see how we can bring innovative designs to Indian consumers at more affordable prices,” he told PTI.

Founded in 2010, Lenskart counts names like IDG Ventures, Ronnie Screwvala-led Unilazer Ventures, TPG Growth, TR Capital, IFC and Premji Invest as its investors. It has raised about US $100 million in funding till date. Apart from online sales, it also has 410 stores and claims to ship 3,00,000 eyewear units per month.

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